Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Title: Hitchcock Double Features
Author: Ogden Porter (Peter Gordon)
Theme: Pairs of Hitchcock movie titles are joined to form wacky phrases, which are then clued

  • 3d: Wholly engrossed wackaloon? (SPELLBOUND PSYCHO). is "wackaloon" really a word? i'm pretty sure i've never seen it before, but it was pretty clear from context what it meant.

  • 5d: Thing that a second-story man might use to break into a house? (REAR WINDOW ROPE). ROPE is the only one of these movies that i've seen, philistine that i am. it's loosely based on one of my favorite novels, crime and punishment. i think i've seen about 10 minutes of REAR WINDOW while flipping channels at my in-laws' house.

  • 10d: Subvert hawks and doves? (SABOTAGE THE BIRDS). this one feels like it hangs together as a phrase slightly less well than the other "double features."

  • 18d: Madness in an emergency vessel used after a shipwreck? (LIFEBOAT FRENZY). this actually sounds very much like the plot of stephen crane's story the open boat. (okay, maybe not so much with the FRENZY and maybe more with the grim naturalism that we expect from crane.)

okay, this was a cool theme. i'm no movie buff, and my ignorance of old movies is particularly galling (to some), but by and large, these films are pretty famous. the only ones i'm not familiar with are SABOTAGE and FRENZY. and the resulting combinations are fairly amusing, too.

Sunny Spots:

  • 22a: It gets laughs from just a few people (IN JOKE). i don't think i've seen this in a puzzle before. great fill word, and the clue is perfect.

  • 64a: Hershey's chocolate bar with toffee (SKOR). yum...


  • 13a: Wholly engrossed (RAPT). cute to cross this with SPELLBOUND, also clued as "wholly engrossed."

  • 15a: "A Night at the Opera" name (MARX). karl? richard? no, silly. it's groucho et al.

  • 19a: Old Testament fratricide victim (ABEL). "fratricide" is one of those words you don't get to use very often in everyday conversation.

  • 21a: Tennis coach's concern (GRIP). i'm currently watching novak djokovic play andy roddick in the australian open. both guys are playing well, but it's 120° out there on the court. mercy! of course, it's currently 20° outside my window, which makes 120° seem not so bad.

  • 24a: In an easygoing manner (MELLOWLY). i guess that's a word, but boy, what an awkward adverb.

  • 26a: Thing that gets socked? (FOOT). not bad, but teetering close to the edge of the "clever but tortured" tag.

  • 28a: Carmaker whose logo is a horse rampant (FERRARI). two things i liked about this clue: 1) i knew i knew it, but it still took me a while to remember which one it was; 2) the noun-following adjective "rampant."

  • 32a: Euphonium's big cousin (TUBA). euphonium is another name for the baritone horn.

  • 34a: Former Georgian president Shevardnadze (EDUARD). matt gaffney recently used SHEVARDNADZE as a theme entry in a "people whose names end with tools" puzzle.

  • 48a: Bills, e.g. (NFL TEAM). i had the NF from crossings before i saw this clue, so it was pretty easy for me, but that's a pretty tough clue for a tuesday.

  • 52a: Part of PDF (PORTABLE). portable document format. so no, "PDF file" isn't redundant.

  • 2d: Hurtle (BARREL). i didn't read this clue carefully enough on the first pass: i thought it was "hurdle," and the answer might be BARRIER with some kind of rebus action going on. but no, it's just the verb BARREL.

  • 6d: Number one Hun (ATTILA). hey, this clue rhymes. betcha didn't notice that. :)

  • 9d: Musical key with four sharps (E MAJOR). or C# minor, but that didn't fit.

  • 23d: Tom and Meg's "Sleepless in Seattle" director (NORA ephron). i always wonder if her nerdy high-school friends nicknamed her "nephron." or maybe her email address is nephron@something. there's gotta be some kind of kidney joke in here somewhere, right?

  • 29d: "Exit Ghost" author (philip ROTH). the ninth and purportedly last of the nathan zuckerman books.

  • 32d: Many Legoland visitors (TOTS). my son sam is now old enough to play with the playland-sized legos. he's quite deft at putting them together and taking them apart, which is fun to watch.

  • 37d: Elbows on the table? (PASTA). great clue. i'm sure i must have seen something like it before, but i enjoyed it anyway.

  • 42d: Stones, e.g. (PELTS). both stones and PELTS are nouns, but they are only related as verbs. so what's more gruesome: the idea of stoning someone, or animal-skin PELTS?

Suns of Bitches:

  • 5a: Robot dog in "Sleeper" (RAGS). "sleeper," you say?

  • 37a: Babyshambles singer Doherty (PETE). babyshambles, you say?

  • 50d: Giraffe in the "Madagascar" movies (MELMAN). i have at least heard of the "madagascar" movies. but this answer reminds me only of the planet MELMAC, the homeworld of ALF.

see you next time.



MM said...


Your ignorance of old movies galls me. I kid, but you really should make a point of seeing those Hitchcock movies. And "Sleeper" is a riot. Speaking of strange Wikipedia entries....

Joon said...

i've seen vertigo, and it's one of my three least favorite movies of all time, along with batman & robin and the graduate. but rope wasn't bad. oh, and the 39 steps. i liked that one.

Pete M said...

I can understand not loving The Graduate, but for it to be one of your three least liked movies of all time? Wow. Perhaps you're fortunate to not have seen as many really bad movies as I have in my life. Or maybe there's just something about that movie that, er, rubs you the wrong way? ;)

Joon said...

i watch very few movies in general, so i have a pretty small sample of bad movies. so that's part of it. it's also true that i have a very low tolerance for movies (or plays, or novels) in which i can't sympathize (at least in some small way) with the characters, especially the protagonist. that's what i didn't like about vertigo or the graduate. batman and robin was just a run-of-the-mill awful movie. i don't think anybody thought it would be good, but it deserves special mention just because it was so bad.